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Bilateral trade flows and income-distribution similarity


  • Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso

    (Georg-August University of Gottingen and Universidad Jaume I)

  • Sebastian Vollmer

    (Harvard University and University of Hannover)


This paper accounts for non-homothetic preferences by specifically investigating the role of income per capita and income-distribution differences in the context of the gravity model of trade. A theoretically justified gravity model is estimated for disaggregated trade data using a sample of 104 exporters and 108 importers for 1980-2003 to achieve two main goals. First we are able to empirically test some of the theoretical predictions of Markusen (2010), namely that there is a positive dependence of trade on per capita income and that higher inequality increase trade of more sophisticated goods. Second, and in line with the Linder hypothesis, we hypothesized that a higher demands´ overlap implies a more similar demand structure and therefore more trade. We test this hypothesis with new measures of income-distribution similarity. National income distributions are used to calculate income similarity indices that measure how much each country pair overlaps in terms of income distribution and population. We find that per capita income is positively related to bilateral trade and that on average, a 10 percent increase in incomedistribution similarities increases exports by almost 4 percent being this effect stronger for more sophisticated goods in comparison with more homogenous ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso & Sebastian Vollmer, 2010. "Bilateral trade flows and income-distribution similarity," Working Papers 10-06, Asociación Española de Economía y Finanzas Internacionales.
  • Handle: RePEc:aee:wpaper:1006

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Thibault FALLY, 2012. "Skill premium and trade puzzles: A solution linking production factors and demand," 2012 Meeting Papers 1189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Caron, Justin & Fally, Thibault & Markusen, James R., 2012. "Skill Premium and Trade Puzzles: A Solution Linking Production and Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 8999, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Markusen, James R., 2013. "Putting per-capita income back into trade theory," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 255-265.
    4. Claudia Bernasconi, 2013. "Similarity of income distributions and the extensive and intensive margin of bilateral trade flows," ECON - Working Papers 115, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Eppinger, Peter S. & Felbermayr, Gabriel J., 2015. "Bilateral trade and similarity of income distributions: The role of second moments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 159-162.

    More about this item


    Exports; Income distribution; Gravity equation; Density estimation; Non-homothetic prefereces.;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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